Direct-to-client "robo-advice" has received a lot of airtime and encompasses a broad range of offerings. In certain circumstances, it fills a vacuum. The issue of access to advice is worrying, because the cost of servicing clients has soared with regulation. Although this has driven professional standards higher, many ordinary South Africans have been left stranded because advisers are forced to focus on fewer, higher-value clients. Cheaper robo-advice may be a force for good by filling this gap. However, direct-to-client offerings tend to involve discrediting real human advisers by, for example, illustrating the impact of fees on investment values. In fact, the advocates of robo-services fail to assign any value to advice whatsoever. I have worked with good advisers in various capacities for most of my career and worry about the impact of sensational marketing. I don't believe robo-advice will ever come close to achieving the heights that its proponents believe it will. Bleeding ed...

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